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Surface-water quality in the West Branch Susquehanna River basin, to 1982 in Hydrologic Accounting Unit 020502

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4283

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Abstract

The West Branch Susquehanna River basin has a drainage area of 6,955 square miles in north-central Pennsylvania and comprises Hydrologic Accounting Unit 020502. A National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN) waterquality data collection site, maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey, is located on the river near its mouth at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Water-quality data are collected at numerous other sites throughout the basin by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of Water Quality Management. Data collected from the NASQAN site and the sites operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources from 1962 to 1982 were used to evaluate water-quality variability in the basin. The following objectives were addressed: (1) describe the surface-water quality upstream of the NASQAN site on an areal and temporal basis; (2) relate the water-quality variability, on both an areal and temporal basis, to general basin characteristics; and (3) assess the ability of the water-quality data collected at the NASQAN site to represent, on both an areal and temporal basis the water quality for Hydrologic Accounting Unit 020502 upstream from the site. Areally, the water quality varies considerably throughout the basin. Generally, the river was found to have moderately good water quality in the upper reaches, poor water quality in its middle reach, and good water quality near the mouth. Two tributaries, Moshannon Creek (median pH 3.9) and Bald Eagle Creek (median pH 7.8), had the most pronounced effect on the water quality of the river. Temporal trends were found in the concentrations of several of the constituents at most of the stations. Of the constituents analyzed, those which exhibited increasing or decreasing trends most frequently were pH, alkalinity, dissolved sulfate, total ammonia, and total nitrite plus nitrate. The largest trends were in the concentrations of total-recoverable aluminum, manganese, and zinc. Causes of areal variation were attributed to land use and geologic variations throughout the basin. Trends which indicated an improvement in water qualijty are believed to be caused by improvements in the treatment of acid mine drainage and wastewater. Trends which indicated degradation of water quality were generally found in areas where these types of treatment are not yet effective. The NASQAN site at Lewisburg was shown not to represent the water quality of the entire basin, either areally or temporally. It does, however, represent the water quality of the West Branch Susquehanna River at its mouth.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Surface-water quality in the West Branch Susquehanna River basin, to 1982 in Hydrologic Accounting Unit 020502
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
85-4283
Year Published:
1989
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center
Description:
vi, 50 p. :ill. ;28 cm.